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News from the American College of Surgeons

For Immediate Release

Contact:
Jen Moran | 312-202-5324
or Sally Garneski | 312-202-5409

Email: pressinquiry@facs.org

American College of Surgeons urges patients to schedule cancer screening sooner rather than later

Chicago (March 18, 2021) – The American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer (ACS CoC) has joined a nationwide effort to encourage patients to resume appropriate cancer screening to prevent a more extensive illness or excess deaths.

The ACS CoC is urging people across the country to talk with their health care provider to resume regular primary care checkups and recommended cancer screenings. This discussion has the potential to lessen the negative impact that the pandemic is having on identifying and treating people with cancer.

Throughout the pandemic, many health care resources were redirected to combat rising COVID-19 cases and to prevent the spread of the virus. Elective medical procedures, including cancer screening, were largely put on hold at the onset of the pandemic. The impact was immediate as screening related procedures dropped drastically in March and May 2020 according to the American Cancer Society. Estimates also project 35 percent of Americans missed routine cancer screening due to COVID-19 related fears and service disruptions. The American Cancer Society foresees that the pandemic-related reductions in health care access and cancer screening will result in a short-term drop in cancer diagnoses and a later corresponding increase in late-state diagnoses and preventable deaths.

To help patients feel safe returning to health care, the American College of Surgeons created a resource document, Preparing to have surgery during the time of COVID-19, which includes a patient-surgeon discussion guide with suggested questions patients can ask their surgeon to feel more prepared about returning to a health care facility for their care. The guide also covers common concerns such as how the check-in process has changed, what to expect during appointments, and safeguards to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

In addition to the patient-surgeon discussion guide, the American College of Surgeons provides ongoing guidance to hospitals and clinical practices to maintain a high level of patient safety and encourage best practices during the ongoing pandemic. Since COVID-19 is impacting communities in different ways, the College recommends facilities take several important issues into consideration, including their community's COVID numbers, personal protective equipment availability, adequate workforce, patient communication protocols, and the ability to deliver safe, high-quality care across the five phases of surgical care.

“Regular cancer screening tests can improve and save your life,” said Timothy W. Mullett, MD, FACS, Chair of the ACS CoC. “Pausing surgical care early in the pandemic helped hospitals prepare to treat patients with COVID-19 and secure necessary equipment, but a year into the pandemic, cancer care facilities have assumed best practices in order to resume screenings and surgical care safely. Screenings increase the chance of detecting cancer early when they may be easier to treat. We’re encouraging everyone to talk to their doctor or a health care professional about getting back on track with their recommended cancer screening.”

Screening refers to testing individuals who have no signs or symptoms of disease. It is critical to ensure that patients with signs or symptoms associated with cancer undergo diagnostic evaluation as soon as possible. Breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death among women and colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of death among men and women in the U.S., yet nearly one in three people for whom screening is recommended were not up-to-date with screening prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information about cancer screening, visit www.cancer.org/healthy/find-cancer-early.html or contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227- 2345.

About the American College of Surgeons

The American College of Surgeons is a scientific and educational association of surgeons that was founded in 1913 to raise the standards of surgical education and practice and to improve the quality of care for surgical patients. Its achievements have placed it at the forefront of American surgery and have made the College an important advocate for all surgical patients. The College has more than 82,000 members and is the largest organization of surgeons in the world.

About the American College of Surgeons Commission on Cancer

Established in 1922 by the College, the CoC is a consortium of professional organizations dedicated to improving patient outcomes and quality of life for cancer patients through standard-setting, prevention, research, education and the monitoring of comprehensive quality care. For more information on the CoC, visit: https://www.facs.org/quality-programs/cancer/coc.